It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. Whether you just graduated from school or if you’re as old as dirt, it’s important to keep your mental synapses firing and keep learning. Besides improving your employment possibilities, studies have shown that continuous learning can also slow down or prevent dementia.
What an interesting year 2016 was! I’m hoping I can keep the momentum going in 2017. One of the promises I made for 2016 was to try something new at least once a month. I wanted to get out of my box, and learn to enjoy life more.
That decision led me to re-discover community theatre. I’ve been to small theatres from Newmarket to Whitby and witnessed an amazing amount of talent. This is definitely something I’m going to continue doing. Two coworkers of mine have been involved in community theatre – acting and directing – and I’ve enjoyed watching them perform and supporting their efforts. To anyone who has not been to a community theatre lately, check it out. Here are some of the community theatres I attended:
- http://www.newmarket.ca/theatre – Nunsense
- http://theatrescarborough.com/ – The Psychic & Sherlock Holmes
- http://www.durhamshoestring.org/ – The Wyrd Sisters
- http://www.stouffville-theatre-company.com/ – It’s a Wonderful Life
- http://uxbridgemusichall.com/site/ – Dial M for Murder
- http://www.herongate.com/ – Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii
I also had the privilege of taking my daughter to see the musical Kinky Boots at the Royal Alex theatre in Toronto. The evening was made more magical because I got to spend time with my beautiful daughter!
I went to a wine tasting this year put on by Fellini Fine Wines (http://fellinifinewines.com/) and joined in with Music Bingo and trivia nights at our local Boston Pizza. I also attended a butter tart festival in Midland, Ontario with a couple of other ladies. What a fun day that was! Ribfest and the Tragically Hip concert at the ROC (http://tinyurl.com/GeorginaROC), a new farmer’s market at the Link in Sutton, and the Sutton Fair, helped to keep my weekends busy. I even attended a drumming circle at De LaSalle Hall which was an amazing way to spend a relaxing afternoon, drumming while looking out at beautiful Lake Simcoe. I found out about that through Meetup. And who can forget the Grate Groan Up Spelling Bee that our library puts on!
My brother in law told me about a concert series called Classic Albums Live (www.classicalbumslive.com) – this is so much more than just tribute bands, it’s the world’s greatest classic rock albums live on state. Note for note. Cut for cut. All I can say is it’s absolutely amazing. I listened to The Band’s Last Waltz at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts in October, and I’ll be going to watch a rendition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, in February.
I also took up colouring in 2016. I now have many adult colouring books and a few sets of pencils/markers and it’s so Zen-like to just chill and colour – on planes, on my deck, with a group of friends.
Something Completely Different
I started doing some reviews of products on Amazon and that’s been really cool. I now have some really cool tech things and a bunch of junk I’m glad I didn’t have to pay for. Many of my friends benefitted from my free products as well, and I’ll be looking to get rid of more stuff as I “ease” myself out of this type of activity. Let’s face it; after awhile it starts to seem a lot like work with stress and deadlines, etc. The only really good thing that came out of this was my introduction to Android boxes. Because I was able to get some at a discount, I was motivated to become a bit of an expert in configuring these boxes, and loading them. When I realized what was involved, I also realized that many local sellers are taking advantage of people by charging $150+ for these boxes. Many of my friends have been able to get a much more affordable streaming TV box and I’ve helped some of them to become more knowledgeable and self-sufficient.
Not everything in 2016 was great though.
My daughter moved away to British Columbia. She found love with an amazing guy and while my heart breaks with the loss, I am comforted by the fact that she is happy and working towards building a future and a family with Mike. I got to know him a bit more over Christmas, and he’s really nice. We had a going away party for her, and we were so blessed by family who cared enough to come and send her off with their best wishes.
One of the volunteer boards I was on actually voted me off. Yeah I know, it’s kind of hard to believe. I won’t name them, but their reason for voting me off (officially anyway) was that I was disrespectful to other board members. I guess that’s how they interpreted my requests to see their bylaws, to expect transparency and professionalism. I pointed out where they had deviated from standard board governance, and even found a couple of experts in board governance who would have volunteered their time to help them become a better board. Suffice to say there was some stuff going on that I didn’t think was very kosher, but they obviously didn’t care. So, after advocating publicly for this organization for almost two years, and raising money for them, etc. I was summarily dismissed for being disrespectful by asking too many questions. Questions such as “could I see the motion that approved that expenditure?” or “can you show me the bylaw that says you can do that without board approval?” I’m well out of there (obviously) and moving on.
My involvement with our local library board has been so fulfilling. It was the reality check I needed this year – a very professional, well-run board led by the Chair, Paul Nicholls. I’ve learned so much from his example and will even repeat a quote from him – good governance and inclusion are like tattoos – they get under your skin and last a lifetime. On the Library Board, I’ve attended SOLS (Southern Ontario Library Service) meetings and shared ideas with other library board members from other libraries. I’ve learned more about fundraising, advocacy, and grants. Through the Ontario Library Association (OLA) website, I’ve been able to take their course Leadership by Design on board governance and succession planning. Because that’s how good boards do things; they educate their board members to be better.
Continuing education is always a good thing, and I’ve taken courses in other areas as well. I’ve become a huge fan of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and over the past year I took courses on Linux through EdX (www.edx.org) and Teaching Adult Learners through Open2Study (www.open2study.com). The latter one was a bit of a refresher as some of my friends will remember when I was a systems trainer in the past. For fun, I took a course wine making at Udemy (www.udemy.com) which was interesting, but no wine at the end (insert disappointed face here).
On the travel front, I went to Cuba in October with a couple of ladies and learned a few things – travelling in groups of three never works unless you’ve all known each other a long time. Cuba was nice though and just the break I needed.
I spent Christmas in Langley, British Columbia, where my daughter and her beau played tour guide and showed me around Stanley Park, the helicopter hanger where Mike worked, and a bit of the surrounding area in the lower mainland. I am already planning to go back when the weather is nicer and I will split my time between the mainland and Victoria, where I can visit my sister Catherine. It’s been too long.
I’ve kept busy in Toastmasters as well. I’m currently the President of my local community club Simcoe Shores Toastmasters (www.simcoeshores.ca) and I`m honoured to be working with a group of fantastic people on the executive. We’ve moved the club out of the church basement into a brighter, cleaner location which, although not very large, is a lovely place to meet. My corporate club, PoSITively Speaking Toastmasters (http://tinyurl.com/PositivelySpeaking) has opened up to outside members and also has an amazing executive. The highlight this year has been the chartering of an online advanced club, Great White North Online toastmasters (http://tinyurl.com/GWNOTM) under the leadership of our visionary leader, Susan Ellsworth.
I was honoured to have a childhood friend, Sue Holbrow, visit and stay a couple of days with me during the summer. Thank you to those who kept me healthy and relatively happy – a fantastic Naturopath, Ashleigh Higgins (http://www.ashleighhigginsnd.com/), a great dentist and staff at Cook’s Bay Dental (http://cooksbaydental.com/), and my physiotherapy (http://www.kesact.com/). I’m a tough client and hard to please, but you’ve all impressed me and I recommend each of you often. It’s been a whirlwind of a year but I feel like I’m forgetting something. If you remember sharing an activity with me, leave a comment and jog my memory.
Thank you to everyone who added to the rich fabric of my life in 2016, family as well as old friends and new friends. I treasure each and every one of you and look forward to making more memories and having more adventures and new experiences in 2017.